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The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

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Altfish
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The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#1 Postby Altfish » March 5th, 2015, 1:03 pm

I attended my first SACRE meeting since the new syllabuses were released on Tuesday night. Obviously the new Religious Studies syllabus was on the agenda and how the teachers are going to adapt the DfE document into a meaningful syllabus for the kids. It is a significant change from the previous. IMHO it is also a massive retrograde step, it is not as if they weren't warned by the NSS, CofE and other churches/religions and RS teachers the length and breadth of the country. It is just political dogma.

As you will be aware Humanism has been greatly reduced in the curriculum and cannot be one of the chosen 'religions' that pupils study in the final years of the GCSE.
The other significant change is that pupils have to choose two 'religions' to study, not one as previously was the case.
The religions on offer are: - Buddhism, Christianity, Christianity (Catholic Christianity), Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. I suppose we should be grateful that Scientology and Mormonism weren't included.

One issue will be faith schools. In faith schools previously the children, because they only had to choose one, would study their own religion, now they have to choose another. This at first seems like a great idea but I suggest it will backfire and the schools will drop RS as a GCSE subject rather than teach another religion.

When I lecture in schools, I always start by asking how many are of 'no religion' I don't think I've ever had less than a 50% show of hands. Will these pupils still continue to choose RS as a GCSE course if they can't study Humanism?

I do wonder if the aim is to reduce the numbers taking RS as a subject as it is not seen as important to this government.

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Dave B
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#2 Postby Dave B » March 5th, 2015, 4:25 pm

I do wonder if the aim is to reduce the numbers taking RS as a subject as it is not seen as important to this government.


Knowing the bunch in power and their (in)ability to think things out it is a religious prpoganda move that might blow back in the way you suggest.

Pity the kids cannot have access to all the cards in the deck so that they can make a truly informed choice in tbeir own lives.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Nick
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#3 Postby Nick » March 5th, 2015, 7:17 pm

Interesting post, Altfish. :) And well done for getting off your arse to get involved with SACRE (which is more than I have done).

Altfish wrote:As you will be aware Humanism has been greatly reduced in the curriculum and cannot be one of the chosen 'religions' that pupils study in the final years of the GCSE.
Grrr!

The other significant change is that pupils have to choose two 'religions' to study, not one as previously was the case.
The religions on offer are: - Buddhism, Christianity, Christianity (Catholic Christianity), Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. I suppose we should be grateful that Scientology and Mormonism weren't included.
Give thanks for small mercies!

One issue will be faith schools. In faith schools previously the children, because they only had to choose one, would study their own religion, now they have to choose another. This at first seems like a great idea but I suggest it will backfire and the schools will drop RS as a GCSE subject rather than teach another religion.
That may be a plus..!

When I lecture in schools, I always start by asking how many are of 'no religion' I don't think I've ever had less than a 50% show of hands. Will these pupils still continue to choose RS as a GCSE course if they can't study Humanism?
Hmmm... in my experience, it is chosen because it is an easy option. "There aren't any right answers..." say the candidates. But it might be that if the curriculum veers towards a study of the religions rather than general ethical/moral questions with reference to religions, then candidates may be put off. I have a little experience of this, having seen the GCSE papers for religious studies. They were decidedly unreligious, in that they bent over backwards to be acceptable to all religious perspectives, even humanism, in that what was sought was an understanding of different perspectives, rather than choosing some religious nonsense or other as the "right" solution.

I do wonder if the aim is to reduce the numbers taking RS as a subject as it is not seen as important to this government.
which would be an unexpected benefit! :D

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Altfish
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#4 Postby Altfish » March 5th, 2015, 7:39 pm

Were you on Nicky Morgan's committee writing this?

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Nick
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#5 Postby Nick » March 6th, 2015, 10:25 am

Altfish wrote:Were you on Nicky Morgan's committee writing this?
Errr, no.

I was not supporting the revision, Altfish, just commenting on it. If it were left to me, I'd have religion taught in just the same way as we treat the Greek myths or Thor's hammer.

I don't think SACRE would like that....

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Altfish
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#6 Postby Altfish » March 6th, 2015, 5:27 pm

Nick wrote:
Altfish wrote:Were you on Nicky Morgan's committee writing this?
Errr, no.

I was not supporting the revision, Altfish, just commenting on it. If it were left to me, I'd have religion taught in just the same way as we treat the Greek myths or Thor's hammer.

I don't think SACRE would like that....

That's what I mean, you are taking the same line as the drafters, ruining a perfectly good course.

Having a thorough understanding of religion in all its forms can only be good for future generations, hence the promotion of the religious studies GCSE and A Levels is essential.

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Nick
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#7 Postby Nick » March 6th, 2015, 10:26 pm

You think so?

What are we missing from not studying the Inca gods? Nothing that need concern the average GCSE student. Certainly Christianity and Islam (say) are much more significant, but surely that could be covered by history, geography, politics etc. To study them as a subject in their own right.... doesn't that give them oxygen? Doesn't that give them a veil of "truth" they don't deserve...?

Having said all that, I don't think the option I am somewhat suggesting, (that we just laugh at anyone who takes religious studies, as a guide to life, seriously,) is a practical, logical or pragmatic option for a humanist to advocate at present. Ho hum.... :rolleyes:

As I say, I salute your participation in the warp and weft of SACRE. Maybe it's lucky for humanism that I don't... :wink:

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Dave B
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#8 Postby Dave B » March 6th, 2015, 10:40 pm

What are we missing from not studying the Inca gods?
All kinds of nasty, bloody rituals - but then again perhaps some politicians might benefit . . .
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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animist
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#9 Postby animist » March 7th, 2015, 8:29 am

Altfish wrote:Having a thorough understanding of religion in all its forms can only be good for future generations, hence the promotion of the religious studies GCSE and A Levels is essential.

I don't think so, though well done for actually being involved. It would be a tall order to promote "understanding of religion in all its forms", given the vast number of them, with their sects and splinters; and why should religion, however defined, be the only ideology thought worthy of study? This is not really about humanism, which TBH is pretty unimportant - what about Marxism? or Fascism? Why can't kids study, instead of a couple of religions, something called "belief systems" or "ideology" or whatever?

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Altfish
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#10 Postby Altfish » March 7th, 2015, 9:34 am

animist wrote:
Altfish wrote:Having a thorough understanding of religion in all its forms can only be good for future generations, hence the promotion of the religious studies GCSE and A Levels is essential.

I don't think so, though well done for actually being involved. It would be a tall order to promote "understanding of religion in all its forms", given the vast number of them, with their sects and splinters; and why should religion, however defined, be the only ideology thought worthy of study? This is not really about humanism, which TBH is pretty unimportant - what about Marxism? or Fascism? Why can't kids study, instead of a couple of religions, something called "belief systems" or "ideology" or whatever?


Surely promoting a knowledge of religion that is not gleamed from the Dail Mail, your priest or imam has to be good??
All those 'belief' systems and '..ologies' you refer to are covered in the old syllabus and are to a lesser extent in the current syllabus.

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Nick
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#11 Postby Nick » March 7th, 2015, 2:49 pm

animist wrote:
Altfish wrote:Having a thorough understanding of religion in all its forms can only be good for future generations, hence the promotion of the religious studies GCSE and A Levels is essential.

I don't think so, though well done for actually being involved. It would be a tall order to promote "understanding of religion in all its forms", given the vast number of them, with their sects and splinters; and why should religion, however defined, be the only ideology thought worthy of study? This is not really about humanism, which TBH is pretty unimportant - what about Marxism? or Fascism? Why can't kids study, instead of a couple of religions, something called "belief systems" or "ideology" or whatever?
A study of economics might help.... :D

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Nick
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#12 Postby Nick » March 7th, 2015, 2:53 pm

Altfish wrote:Surely promoting a knowledge of religion that is not gleamed from the Dail Mail, your priest or imam has to be good??
Hmmm... dunno, but what if such study merely gives the priests, mullahs etc a helping hand? Might it not be more effective to laugh at them all, and say don't be so silly, and turn to other matters instead?

Not that I am suggesting that would be a practical suggestion for discussion in SACRE circles... :wink:

thundril
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#13 Postby thundril » March 7th, 2015, 3:01 pm

Nick wrote:
animist wrote: Why can't kids study, instead of a couple of religions, something called "belief systems" or "ideology" or whatever?
A study of economics might help.... :D
:dance:

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Dave B
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#14 Postby Dave B » March 7th, 2015, 4:23 pm

Nick wrote:A study of economics might help.... :D
Agreed, economics is at about the same level of reality and rationality as religious belief and faith . . .
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#15 Postby Alan H » March 7th, 2015, 4:48 pm

:pointlaugh:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Nick
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#16 Postby Nick » March 7th, 2015, 5:36 pm

Oh dear. :sad2:


Does explain a lot of lefty thinking, though.... :wink:

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Dave B
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#17 Postby Dave B » March 7th, 2015, 5:55 pm

Nick wrote:Oh dear. :sad2:


Does explain a lot of lefty thinking, though.... :wink:
How is it politically biased to liken economics with religeon, Nick? I have to admit they are not actually similar,except they both rely on the unknowable, though some economists seems to attract pseudo-religious adoration. I do like Schumacher I have to admit - seems a good pragmatic chap with a fine sense of the ridiculous side of his field!

It's an arcane art, it seems, that relies greatly on portents for its predictions (which it mostly seems to get wrong . . .)
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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animist
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#18 Postby animist » March 7th, 2015, 7:19 pm

Dave B wrote:
Nick wrote:A study of economics might help.... :D
Agreed, economics is at about the same level of reality and rationality as religious belief and faith . . .

you walked squarely into that one Nick :D . Seriously, I think sociology and maybe psychology are of more relevance to religious studies than your pet subject (which, I have to remind you, is self-limiting in a way which almost excludes affairs of the heart, like religion). I defer to Altfish in any matter of fact here, but I wonder what the approach actually is in these religious education topics - is it purely descriptive or is there room for evaluation?

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Altfish
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Re: The Revised Religious Studies GCSE

#19 Postby Altfish » March 8th, 2015, 9:58 am

animist wrote:
Dave B wrote:
Nick wrote:A study of economics might help.... :D
Agreed, economics is at about the same level of reality and rationality as religious belief and faith . . .

you walked squarely into that one Nick :D . Seriously, I think sociology and maybe psychology are of more relevance to religious studies than your pet subject (which, I have to remind you, is self-limiting in a way which almost excludes affairs of the heart, like religion). I defer to Altfish in any matter of fact here, but I wonder what the approach actually is in these religious education topics - is it purely descriptive or is there room for evaluation?

It was definitely evaluation. Obviously you have to understand the religions you are studying to be able to critique them, so there is a not inconsiderable amount of knowledge that has to be acquired.
In my experience of teaching lessons on humanism (admittedly not a lot) the kids are bright, and the questioning at the end is excellent.
At school I was very much a maths/scientist (Hence my poor grasp of English :wink: ) but I think I would have enjoyed the RS A Level course


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